Home inventories hit four-year low

The number of homes listed for sale in September fell to the lowest level in more than four years, offering a mixed signal about the health of the U.S. housing market.

October 19, 2011
new home sales, housing market, home inventory

The number of homes listed for sale in September fell to the lowest level in more than four years, offering a mixed signal about the health of the U.S. housing market, according to the Wall Street Journal’s blog.



The 2.19 million homes listed for sale was down 3.3 percent from August, which had been the previous low for the year, and about 20 percent from the year-earlier period, according to data compiled by Realtor.com. It is also the lowest level since Realtor.com began its count in January 2007.



Falling inventories are typically a sign of health because that leads to less downward pressure on home prices. But real-estate agents and home buyers across the country have increasingly voiced frustration with what many say are slim pickings. As a result, the latest inventory declines may point instead to the housing market’s continued disrepair.



Banks have slowed down their foreclosure processes over the last year, which could lead to lower volumes of bank-owned properties hitting the market. Meanwhile, sellers, frustrated with lowball offers, could be taking their homes off the market to wait for a sign that prices have stopped falling.



The decline in inventory is also troubling because it suggests that there are fewer opportunities for buyers and sellers to strike deals and engage in price discovery. That can further chill sales as buyers become afraid to overpay while sellers are similarly cautious about under-pricing their home.



To read the blog, go here.

 

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